- Quote: ‘The players’ duty is to behave in a responsible manner, use common sense and follow all relevant guidelines. The eyes of the planet will be on them to help deliver a ground-breaking event’ – Barry Hearn
By Andrew Atkinson
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn is delighted that the sport was chosen by the UK Government to allow spectators attend the World Championship at The Crucible in the midst of the coronavirus situation.
“Following extensive discussions with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and Nigel Huddleston MP, we are delighted that the Betfred World Championship has been picked among the very small number of sports events for this pilot project. We will be the only indoor sporting event with a crowd,” said Hearn.
“This highlights the Government’s confidence in snooker and our ability to safely welcome back fans at one of the biggest sporting events on the planet.
“This is marvellous news for the small number of spectators lucky enough to have kept their tickets for what will be a unique occasion at the Crucible.
“Every single one who chose the option to keep their seat for this year will be given a place. And the limited number of tickets on general sale will be snapped up quickly by fans who now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to see this world-famous event live,” said Hearn.
The preliminary qualifying rounds took place at The Crucible in the last week of July, with Jimmy White thwarted of reaching the Championship proper, after suffering a defeat in his third qualifying match.
On the World Championship, Hearn added: “This really will be a golden ticket. We hope this event will never again be staged under these circumstances.
“But on this occasion, it will make the experience even more unique and special. And fans can rest assured that every health and safety guideline provided by the Government will be followed.
“From the beginning of this crisis we have remained positive, worked towards opportunities and maintained a constant dialogue with Government.
“We have been the pacesetters for the return of live sport, staging two successful tournaments already and now we will be the first to host fans at an indoor event. Everyone involved in getting to this point has worked extremely hard and my gratitude goes to them.
“Several players have commented that the tournament would not be the same without fans, and so now they will be thrilled by the fact that we are among the first sports to welcome spectators back.
“The players’ duty is now to behave in a responsible manner, use common sense and follow all relevant guidelines. The eyes of the planet will be on them to help deliver a ground-breaking event.”
With a history dating back to 1927, the Betfred World Championship features the world’s top 16 players plus 16 qualifiers, battling for the famous trophy.
Defending champion Judd Trump gets the tournament underway on July 31st, while other top stars in action over the 17 days will include Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy and Ding Junhui.